Sex work

What is a sex worker?

Sex workers are adult women, men, non-binary and trans people who accept money or goods in return for consensual, sexual services or performances, either regularly or occasionally. The word covers everyone from clinic workers to women on the street, the erotic dancer and everyone in between.

Why do we call it sex work and not prostitution?

The words sex worker and sex work carry a recognition that sex work is WORK. Many people who sell sex prefer to be called sex workers and find the term ‘prostitute’ derogatory and stigmatising. When you refer to sex workers as prostitutes, you partake in projecting several layers of cultural assumptions onto the person(s) in questions: about their worth, their relationship with psychoactive substances, childhood, integrity, cleanliness and health status. It is, in other words, an extremely charged word that in many ways tries to silence the voice of the sex worker and their right to self-determination and agency.

Why do sex workers choose this job?

There can be a multitude of reasons why an individual may choose to trade in sexual services - this choice is of course, like all other choices in life, driven by wishes and/or circumstance. For some sex workers this job allows them greater financial freedom and flexibility than other jobs. For some the choice is motivated by poverty and lack of alternatives. But regardless if the reason(s) for their choices, we as a society have to recognise, that sex workers should have access to the same rights and protections in the workplace as all other workers do. Criminalising sex work and buying sex work would be counterproductive to these ends.

Sex Work Is Work

Written by Julie Zerlang

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